Understanding Wills In Tennessee: Which is Best?

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on December 11, 2019

Estate planning may not be a top priority for you right now. But it’s never too early to prepare for the future. According to a 2017 AARP study, only 4 in 10 American adults had wills or a living trust. 

What happens if you pass away without a will?

If you die without a will, your assets are left to your closest related family member. But, once those assets are transferred, the heir becomes a beneficiary as Tennessee law requires probate of estates with or without a will. 

Remember that if you pass away without a will, your debts continue on. Therefore, even if your next of kin is to receive your assets, they potentially get nothing at all because your estate needs to be paid. 

What types of wills are available?

There are three types of wills in Tennessee: attested, holographic and nuncupative (oral) wills. However, do not confuse the three with living wills which are in effect while the individual is alive, but not able to make their own decisions. 

  • Attested Will: Considered the most common type of will, attested wills are those which are witnessed by two or more individuals who sign to make it valid.

Under certain conditions, holographic and nuncupative wills are also accepted.

  • Holographic Will: Holographic wills are handwritten, dated and signed by the testator but not signed by required witnesses. However, the handwriting must be verified by two witnesses. Though accepted, there can be issues when holographic wills are found after death.
  • Nuncupative Will: Also known as an oral will, nuncupative wills provides instruction on how the testor would want their assets to be distributed. These may also be called a deathbed will and are only acceptable when the individual is facing imminent death. These wills must also be made in front of two non-interested witnesses, must be transcribed within 30 days and submitted for probate within 6 months preceding death. Family members must know that these wills are only valid on personal property not exceeding $1,000 unless that person is in active military, air, or naval service in time of war, then $10,000 is permitted. It cannot replace a written will. 

Don’t leave your estate up to chance. Contact an estate planning law firm that can help you protect your loved ones in the future. 

Our Tennessee Estate Planning Lawyers Are Here to Help

Don’t wait to begin estate planning. At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, our estate planning lawyers will guide you through the process with the compassion needed.

If you’re ready to write your will, we’re here to help every step of the way. Contact us at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC now for more information.

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